Families thinking about a long weekend at Disney World might want to consider visiting Mickey Mouse on the high seas instead. Depending on the dates, a three-night Bahamian itinerary on the Disney Dream runs a family of four between $2,000 and $3,000, not much more than 3-day Park Hopper passes, Disney hotel stays, parking and meals.
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy (which does week-long cruises) sail from Port Canaveral, but in the winter Caribbean season, another of Disney’s ships sails from PortMiami.
Here are nine reasons to take this year’s Disney vacation at sea.
▪ All-you-can-eat: Anyone who’s cruised before knows you spend at least half your time eating. The Disney Dream features three beautifully-decorated dining rooms (The Royal Palace, The Enchanted Garden and The Animator’s Palette) and above-average cuisine. The Cabanas buffet, open for breakfast and lunch, is a more casual, but equally tasty, option. Another nice perk you won’t find on many cruise lines: unlimited soda. Contrast that to Disney World, where even the fast service options are pricey.
Rather than wait an hour to ride Splash Mountain, hop in an inner tube and brave the AquaDuck, the world’s first “water coaster” at sea.
▪ First-Run Movies: In addition to theme parks and cruise ships, Disney has been known to dabble in the movie business. And in the Disney Dream’s Buena Vista Theater, a spacious and lovely Art Deco venue, passengers can watch new releases on the big screen for free (though popcorn costs extra). If your timing is right, you might even get to attend a premiere at sea. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shown at midnight on the Disney Dream the same day it opened across the United States.
▪ The App: Staying in touch with family members scattered around a cruise ship can be difficult if you don’t spring for an expensive data plan. Knowing adults and kids can have very different itineraries, Disney Cruise Line has always included two portable shipboard phones in your cabin. Now they’ve gone one better, creating a smartphone app that allows cruisers to text for free. The best part, according to my kids: a selection of Disney-themed emoji including Pixar and Star Wars characters. In addition to texting, the app includes a detailed map of the ship, restaurant menus and more.
The most impressive addition is an interactive scale model of the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Located in the Oceaneer Club play area, the set-up lets you take Han Solo’s seat and make the jump to light speed.